Man jailed in forced marriage first
A businessman has become the first person in the UK to be prosecuted under forced marriage laws introduced a year ago.
The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was jailed for 16 years after making a 25-year-old woman marry him under duress last year.
Merthyr Crown Court heard the already married man systematically raped his victim for months before threatening to go public with hidden camera footage of her showering unless she became his wife.
The 34-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, developed an "irrational obsession" with his victim and lured her to his home under the promise of a get-together with friends.
But when she arrived at his home in Cardiff, the woman found the property empty before the curtains were drawn and the front door locked.
A judge then told of how the terrified woman - a devout Muslim - was bound and gagged with scarves before music was played loudly to drown out her cries for help.
But the woman's ordeal was far from over. She was shown secret footage of her showering moments after her virginity had been cruelly stolen and her attacker later threatened to make the video public unless she married him.
The Cardiff businessman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to four counts of rape, as well admitting forced marriage, bigamy and voyeurism.
Judge Daniel Williams said the defendant used "constant threats" to try to keep his victim quiet.
"When you first raped her, she was still a virgin - something which you would use to ensure her silence," he said.
"After you had raped her you produced a laptop which had a video of her showering after you had installed a hidden camera in a towel rail.
"You threatened that if she disclosed the rape to anyone, you would make that video public.
"You made her feel that she was no longer marriage material (for anyone else) in the hope that she would turn to you."
The court heard that following months of being "systematically" raped, the man suddenly turned up at the woman's place of work and drove her straight to a mosque.
"She was told that if she did not submit to your demands her parents would be killed," added Judge Williams.
The court heard that the man had preyed upon his victim for years - and even managed to convince her a then boyfriend of hers was gay after setting up a fake Facebook page.
Judge Williams also detailed the defendant's attempts to try to have his case thrown out - changing his pleas a number of times at the 11th hour - as an "exercise of control" over the woman in the hope that she drop the case against him.
The court was told the man's trial was aborted on the second day - just as his victim was due to give evidence in front of a jury - after he finally pleaded guilty.
Judge Williams deemed the man "a high risk" to women and described the offending as "planned...over a significant period of time".
"While you have pleaded guilty....there has been no genuine show of remorse," added the Judge.
"Over the period of which you raped her...it was your intention to cause her irreparable harm so that no-one would want her."
For the rapes, voyeurism, bigamy and forced marriage, the defendant was sentenced to 16 years custody before being made the subject of an extended licence for five years.
Judge Williams also said the man - who claimed to follow Islam - would remain on the sex offenders' register for "an indefinite period".
Before sending the defendant down, Judge Williams praised the victim's bravery in coming forward.
"She has continued to show courage and fortitude....and the court wishes her good fortune for the future - which she so richly deserves."
Forced marriage was criminalised under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and came into force last June.
Iwan Jenkins, Head of Crown Prosecution Wales Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, said: "Forced marriage wrecks lives and destroys families. We hope that today's sentence sends a strong message that forced marriage will not be tolerated in today's Britain.
"It is a testament to the strength of the case which we constructed with the police that we secured a guilty plea for the offences in this case.
"The victim has shown great courage and bravery in reporting these matters. This conviction illustrates the seriousness in which these crimes are treated and investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service and South Wales Police.
"I hope today's sentence brings some closure for those who have suffered as a result of these particularly nasty and invasive crimes."
South Wales Police Detective Superintendent Lian Penhale described the case as legal milestone.
"I hope that today's sentencing will act as a catalyst to empower victims and those at risk to come forward and enable the police and our partners to give them the support they need to ensure they're free from this criminal activity - and to bring the offenders to justice.
"We know that victims and witnesses will be concerned, and therefore we want victims and those at risk to know that allegations will be treated in the strictest confidence and in a safe and sensitive manner. We also understand and recognise that victims those at risk may not want to demonise or otherwise criminalise their families, community or faith group.
"Our priority is to keep victims, and those at risk safe. South Wales Police is committed to protecting and upholding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all. If anyone is worried about the threat of a forced marriage they should contact the police, the UK Forced Marriage Unit or one of the specialist agencies that support victims and potential victims of forced marriage."